Criticisms of Bury St Edmunds metal trees scheme - delayed by nine months - spark row at meeting

St Andrew's Street South in Bury last year after the build-outs were installed.

St Andrew's Street South in Bury last year after the build-outs were installed. - Credit: Archant

A row erupted at a public meeting when a councillor described a long-overdue scheme for two metal trees in Bury St Edmunds as “comical”.

Independent councillor Paul Hopfensperger criticised the planned art installations for St Andrew’s Street South, but chair of the meeting, Conservative councillor Robert Everitt, would not let him continue.

Mr Hopfensperger, said Mr Everitt - who supports the scheme - was trying to prevent comments that “will embarrass you just before an election”.

But Mr Everitt said he had asked for any questions, “so I wasn’t trying to stop him speaking, I just wanted a question”.

The plans for the two trees - costing about £15,000 combined - are part of a wider upgrade of St Andrew’s Street South, at the back of the Arc shopping centre, worth more than £200,000.

The stainless steel trees have been made by a local metal designer and were originally due to be in place last June at the build-outs at the Central Walk and Market Thoroughfare crossing points.

At the same meeting on Tuesday - that of the borough council’s Bury area working party - business leader Mark Cordell raised the issue of the delay, which led to the comments by Mr Hopfensperger.

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Mr Cordell, chief executive of Ourburystedmunds, said: “Why is this delay happening? I just think this is another opportunity missed here.”

Mr Hopfensperger said: “I’m hoping they don’t get put in. It’s not actually going to solve the problem of St Andrew’s Street South.”

The project was rubberstamped by the Bury Area working party and the works are being carried out by Suffolk County Council contractors.

A county council spokeswoman said the structural engineers needed more information about the “holding down arrangements” - how the trees are supposed to be put in.

“Once we receive that information we can confirm the installation arrangements and whether this will require a road closure. If this is the case it may take up to 12 weeks to arrange.”

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